Marking the fastest passenger traffic growth in 13 years, 2017 was a record-breaking year for aviation in Europe, according to the ACI (Airports Council International) Europe airport report released this month.
Passenger traffic at non-EU airports grew by an average 11.4 percent (compared to a 0.9 percent decline in 2016), with Russian and Turkish airports recovering. Airports in Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Iceland were boosted by 20 percent on average.
At the same time, passenger traffic growth was up by 30 percent over the past five years. According to the European airport trade association, passenger traffic at airports across Europe grew by 8.5 percent in 2017. EU airports saw passenger traffic rise by 7.7 percent, compared to 6.7 percent in 2016 with double digit growth at airports in Latvia, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta and Portugal.
“The year 2017 marks the best for European airports since 2004, when air traffic was boosted by the accession of 10 countries to the EU… This performance comes on top of several years of dynamic growth and shows that demand for air transport keeps outperforming the economy and defying geopolitical risks,” said Olivier Jankovec, director general ACI Europe, adding however that since 2012, EU passenger traffic has risen by approximately 30 percent. “Such significant growth is putting much pressure on airport facilities and staff with more and more airports now reaching their capacity limits – especially during peak hours.”
Passenger traffic at Europe’s top five airports grew by 5.5 percent in 2017 reflecting the continued expansion of low cost carriers in primary markets and the improved performance of these airports’ hub carriers. London-Heathrow was the busiest European airport in 2017 with 78 million passengers (up by 3 percent), followed by Frankfurt airport with 64.5 million passengers stronger by 6.1 percent, and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle with 69.5 million passengers, up by 5.4 percent.
Of the smaller EU airports, Iceland’s Keflavik marked a 267.7 percent increase, Istanbul-Sabiha Gocken up by 105.2 percent, Split by 98.1 percent, Sofia by 87.1 percent, Luxembourg by 87 percent, Eindhoven by 89.9 percent, Berlin SXF by 81.3 percent, Oporto by 78.3 percent, Lisbon by 74.3 percent and Athens International Airport by 67.9 percent.
“This might be as good as it gets and while we anticipate continued growth in the coming months, it will most certainly come at a slower pace,” Jankovec commented.